Paramount Pictures Corp. and DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., makers of the animated film ``Bee Movie,'' were sued by a honey-products company over claims they copied the firm's ``Give Bees A Chance'' slogan.
BeeCeuticals LLC, a closely held skin-care products maker owned by Howard Stern's cousin Richie Gerber filed the trademark-infringement suit today in Miami. Gerber, a personality on Stern's radio talk show, filed a federal trademark application for ``Give Bees A Chance'' a year ago, according to the complaint.
Paramount, a unit of New York-based Viacom Inc., and DreamWorks, based Glendale, California, are accused in the suit of using ``Give Bees A Chance'' in movie advertisements shortly after meeting with a BeeCeuticals marketing representative.
``My client went to the companies to explore joint marketing. Ideas were passed back and forth, and they eventually used the trademark without asking,'' Elliot Zimmerman, a lawyer for Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based BeeCeuticals, said in an telephone interview. ``That's something they would have normally paid for.''
Following meetings between the parties last month, the entertainment companies refused to guarantee the trademark wouldn't be used in new marketing for the film after they had ``retired'' television ads that used the slogan, according to the suit. The movie, which has been marketed heavily with McDonald's Corp. products, opens in U.S. theaters Nov. 2.
Gerber used the trademark to advertise his honey and skin- care products more than 400 times on Stern's show beginning in March, according to the complaint. BeeCeuticals sent a cease- and-desist letter to the entertainment companies on Oct. 24.
Gerber and his wife, Julie, previously owned Florida-based Bread of Life, an organic foods company that merged with Whole Foods Market Inc. in 1997.
Paramount released ``Bee Movie,'' while DreamWorks produced it. The film stars Jerry Seinfeld, who plays a bee who graduates from college and can't accept that his only role in life is to make honey. It also stars Renee Zellweger and Matthew Broderick.
Viacom spokesman Carl Folta declined to comment. DreamWorks spokesman Rich Sullivan didn't immediately return a call.
The case is Beeceuticals LLC v. Dreamworks Animation SKG, Inc., 07-cv-61563, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida ( Miami). ( Bloomberg )